Long Overdue: Tribal ‘Reservation Area’ Signs posted by Michigan Dept of Transportation


MANISTEE, MICHIGAN — The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians presence is finally acknowledged on road signs as cars and trucks enter into the tribe’s ancestral reservation area near Manistee, Michigan.

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is a federally recognized tribe, based in Manistee, Michigan.

“This is a welcome recognition of our place in history” was the comment made by tribal members on Wednesday the 15th, as a Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) crew posted new highway signs in Manistee County informing visitors that they were entering the “Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Ancestral Reservation Area”.

The signs were erected by MDOT crews on Monday on M55 to the East, US 31 to the North and South and upon M22 on the way to Onekama.

Tribal BIA Roads Planner and former Tribal Council Speaker Steve Parsons was instrumental in working with the state for the signs. The process was lengthy and was kicked off with a resolution by the Tribal Council authorizing the signs several months ago.

“Having been both a tribal elected official and a tribal government employee, I recognize the value of these signs in educating visitors and residents alike concerning the presence of the tribe in Manistee. Our people have been here for many, many years and to see this recognition by the state is indeed an honor,” stated Parsons.

“I think it is a nice way to keep the wonderful history of our People out there as well as our ties to the very lands contained therein,” commented Ogema Larry Romanelli, the elected leader of the tribe since 2007.

Virg Johnson, the current Tribal Council Speaker also voiced his pleasure at the recognition of the tribal presence in Manistee, “Our tribe has been part of this land for many generations and we have been an important part of its history. I appreciate that the State of Michigan has honored us with this recognition.”

Elsewhere in the State of Michigan, Tribal reservation areas are recognizable by road signs placed at the boundaries of their particular areas. These signs are helpful for the history buffs and people interested in learning more about their state.

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is one of twelve federally recognized tribes in Michigan.

While the signs read “ancestral reservation area,” the good news is the Little River Band of Ottawa are still very much in existence and is the largest employer Manistee County with its tribal operations and tribal business enterprises, which includes the Little River Casino & Resort.

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